Though I still teach online and continue with some freelance writing, my primary career at this point consists of childcare, a worthy pursuit to say the least. Actually, in many ways I have to take this job more seriously than I have any other. There’s a little person in my charge…and if I don’t watch that little person carefully, he could end up sticking his fingers in an electrical socket or choking on dog food. And for goodness’ sake, without me to supervise, what would the child eat? Now that nursing is no longer enough to sustain A., I’ve become quite occupied with solid (or, more accurately, pureed) foods.
Following my mother’s example, I make all of A.’s baby food, and count my blessings for my electric blender (mom dug her old baby food grinder out to show me, and it was truly mystifying). I think it is probably a good sign that if A. doesn’t finish a particular meal, I’m happy to scoop the rest into my mouth (this was most definitely not the case when, in a pinch, I bought a pre-mixed jar of “organic peas and brown rice,” then made the mistake of performing a taste test—blech). Making baby food does require some planning, but I wouldn’t call it time-consuming, exactly. I just need to think far enough ahead to realize that we’re almost out of butternut squash cubes, then buy another one to roast, or to mash and freeze peas at night so A.can have a green vegetable the next day.
I buy organic food for A., and as his appetite increases, that’s getting more expensive, but definitely not as expensive as buying jarred baby food. I enjoy creating well-rounded “meals” for him and experimenting with combinations that are both colorful and nutritious. Now that he can eat more than just one food at a time, it’s fun to see what works well together (Ruth Yaron’s very popular book, Super Baby Food, is an excellent guide). Today’s meals, for example, were a huge success–A. licked the platter clean three times. Breakfast was an apricot/banana puree and tofu. Lunch was two beet cubes and half an avocado. Dinner was a pea cube and squash cube mixed together, with a half-cup of plain yogurt on the side. A. has a healthy appetite and practically dives for the spoon as I lift it towards his mouth. Of course, he also enjoys touching the food and squishing it between his fingers. The obsessive-compulsive side of me has completely succumbed to the side that finds mushy vegetables pasted all over the table and floor rather cute.
Tonight, A. accompanied us to dinner out at an Italian restaurant with grandma, grandpa, Auntie A. and Uncle J. He wolfed down the aforementioned veggies and yogurt, and seemed satisfied–that is, until the waitress brought my salad. A. seemed to realize that my food, shapely and un-mushed, was different than his, and therefore desirable. He lunged repeatedly, grabbing at lettuce, salami, olives. Fortunately, he was already trying to juggle two canning jar lids and about three different spoons while practically standing up in his high chair, so the “grown-up food” never made its way to his mouth.